-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
The Evangelical Right arose from the moral outrage triggered by the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. That compelling portrait of their origins glosses over the movement’s less-than-heroic inception. While Roman Catholics condemned the ruling, W. Barry Garrett of Baptist Press wrote, “Religious liberty, human equality and justice are advanced by the Supreme Court abortion decision.” Wayne Dehoney, Southern Baptist Convention president in the 1960’s, noted, in 1976, the difference between Protestant and Catholic theology when he said: “Protestant theology generally takes Genesis 2:7 as a statement that the soul is formed at breath, not conception.”
The Evangelical Right did not come together in response to the Roe v. Wade decision but in response to the attempt by the IRS to rescind the tax-exempt status of private schools because of the school’s racially discriminatory policies.
In Green v. Connally (1972), the United States District Court, District of Columbia, enjoined the IRS from approving any application for tax exempt status for any private school in the State of Mississippi unless that school has “has publicized the fact that it has a racially nondiscriminatory policy as to students.”
In 1975, the IRS sought to revoke the tax-exempt status of Bob Jones University because the school’s regulations prohibited inter-racial dating. It wasn’t until 1971 that African-Americans were admitted and then only if they were married. In Bob Jones University v. United States (1983), the Supreme Court, in an 8-1 decision, found that:
The Government’s fundamental, overriding interest in eradicating racial discrimination in education substantially outweighs whatever burden denial of tax benefits places on petitioners’ exercise of their religious beliefs.
Paul M. Weyrich, a longtime conservative activist, and one of the architects of the Religious Right in the late 1970s, insisted that the political movement got its start when the IRS tried to rescind the tax-exempt status of schools that practiced racial discrimination. Weyrich tried for years to energize evangelical voters over issues such as school prayer, abortion, and the proposed equal rights amendment. Weyrich added: “What changed their mind was Jimmy Carter’s intervention against the Christian schools, trying to deny them tax-exempt status on the basis of so-called de facto segregation.” The 1972 Green decision and the 1975 IRS action against Bob Jones University actually predate Jimmy Carter’s presidency (1977-1981).
Discrimination based on race makes absolutely no sense based on genetics alone. Dr. Spencer Wells has traced The Journey of Man through evidence uncovered in the Y-chromosome. This evidence shows that evangelicals, and everyone else, are descended from Africans. Oh the irony! White evangelicals can trace their ancestry back to black Africans. Maybe that’s the real reason they deny evolution.